In Phoenix, Arizona, a 26-year-old mother stared down at her six-year-old son, who was dying of terminal leukemia. Although her heart was filled with much sadness, she also had a strong feeling of determination.
Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up and fulfill his dreams. Now that was no longer possible…. the leukemia would see to that; but she still somehow wanted her little son’s dream to come true. She took her son’s hand and asked, ‘Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be once you grew up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?’ ‘Mommy, I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up,’ was his quiet and sincere reply. His mom smiled back and said, ‘Let’s see if we can make your wish come true.’
Later that day she went to her local fire Department in Phoenix, Arizona, where she met Fireman Bob, who had a heart just about as big as the city. She explained her son’s final wish and asked if it might be possible to give her six year old a ride around the block on a fire engine. Fireman Bob replied with excited compassion, ‘Look, we can do much more than that. If you’ll have your son ready at seven o’clock on Wednesday morning, we’ll make him an honorary Fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards” And also, if you’ll give us his sizes, we’ll get a real fire uniform for him, with a genuine fire hat…. not a toy, one with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, along with a yellow slicker and rubber boots just like we wear.’ ‘They’re all manufactured right here in Phoenix, so we can get them real fast,’ the congenial city servant assured the loving mother.
Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his uniform, and escorted the frail young lad from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck. Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station, and of course he was in emotional heaven! There were three fire calls in Phoenix that day and Billy got to go out on all three of them. During his exciting adventure he would ride in the different fire engines, the Paramedic’s van, and even the Fire Chief’s car…. of course with all the lights flashing and sirens blaring. Billy was also videotaped for the local television news program.
Having his dream come true as well as all the love and attention that was lavished upon him that special day so deeply touched Billy, that he lived three months longer than any of his doctors thought possible. Then one night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically, and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept that no one should ever have to die alone, began to call the family members to the hospital. Then she fondly remembered that wonderful day that Billy had spent as a Fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition.
Without hesitation the kindly Chief replied, ‘we can do better than that. We’ll be there in five minutes…. but in the meantime will you please do us a favour? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the hospital public address system that there is not a fire?’ ‘Please explain that it’s the Phoenix Fire Department coming to see one of it’s finest members one more time; and also would you please leave the window open to Billy’s room?’
About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended it’s long ladder up to Billy’s third floor open window…then 16 fire-fighters in all their gear climbed up the ladder and stepped into his room. With his mother’s permission, they each hugged him and held him and told him how much they loved and admired him. With his dying breath, Billy looked up at the Fire Chief and said, ‘Chief, am I really a fireman now?’ Fighting back the tears the Chief replied: ‘Yes Billy, you are, and the Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand.’ With those kind and encouraging words, Billy smiled and said, ‘I know, He’s been holding my hand all day, and the angels have been singing!’ He then closed his eyes one last time.
Please remember that not only are all of our emergency services and safety personnel always there to assist us 24/7…they are also blessed with hearts and community spirit as big as their fire trucks! Watch for spring just around the corner, and have a great week, all of you.